The complete history of engraving is far too broad to properly discuss in a single article. With that being said, the following will focus on certain, substantial highlights of the history of engraving. We will explore the following:

· What techniques have been used?
· Why people choose to engrave?
· What has been engrave over the centuries?


Why Engrave?

Just as in ancient times, people have chosen to have items engraved as a method of paying homage to someone. As far ago as 500,000 year ago, men were carving stones and precious metals in homage to men, gods and demi gods. Additionally, engraving (or carving) has been used as a measure of indicating wealth. This is evident in the engraving of seals, which began around 3000BC. It was only the wealthiest of citizens at the time would have been possession of such seals made of soapstone, lapis lazuli and more.

Throughout time, engravers engraved simply to decorate items needed for daily life. Most significantly, engraving has been utilized for the recording of history over the centuries. The Mesopotamians did so using the medium of gemstones within Egypt. Within Egypt, the most common of products being engraved was the scarab. This beetle-like, oval-shaped carving was traditionally worn by Egyptians as an amulet that serves as a reminder of what awaited them in the afterlife. What is important regarding engraving’s connection to history, is what was written on the scarabs themselves. Upon the rounded back of the scarabs, one would find a design, while the flat side would be garnished with hieroglyphics that ranged from records of memorable events to sacred prayers within the society.

Were you aware that it was engraving that lead to the understanding of the history of Egypt. Before the 1799 discovery of the Rosetta Stone, the hieroglyphics of ancient Egypt were a frustrating mystery. The code of the engraved stone was able to be deciphered early in the 1800s by Jean Clause Champollion, a French scholar. Also, contained on the stone was an edict that was issued in the year, 196 BC. This edict was able to record the benefits provided to Egypt by the hand of Ptolemy V Epiphanes (who was only 13 when he was coronated). This edict was engraved onto the stone in a total of three scripts:

· Demotic (hieroglyphics on cursive form)
· Greek
· Egyptian hieroglyphics

ancient engraving


The simplest form of engraving is push or hand engraving. This is an engraving technique that has been used since near the dawn of civilization. One simply needs to utilized a sharp tool to push into a piece of material to make a mark. This technique cannot be used for all materials, but there are a number that hand engraving is ideal for.

Given that the push technique was riddled with limitations, the method of chasing. Chasing has been used for approximately 47,000 years. This is a technique in which a hammer (or another tool) is used to hit a chisel. This is a technique that allows people to engrave materials that are far harder without becoming fatigued. From there, as cultures began to advance, additional engraving techniques were created.

From 2700 to 2100 BC, the Egyptians utilized rotating drills that were hand-powered. These drills consisted of an elongated stick with a convenient handle atop it.

The History of Engraving